Listening to the Odyssey at 35,000 Feet

I drift into a grove
where a three-sided sculpture
is nearly complete.
The fourth side wraps like a glove,
its red crinkled texture,
flesh turned inside out.

The robes of the world grow dark
far from the stallion land of Argos
and the awful reek of those sea-fed brutes.

And he chased her over the hill and down,
in leaves, in soft grasses,
she with her arm band and leather string for a crown,
until he tackled her where she started up the hill.
She was smiling.

Pouring the lustral water, he scattered the barley meal.
The heifer wrapped in gold foil,
slashed her throat for barbecue.

A crystal in the broken shoe,
where everything you’ve ever wondered was stepped on.
Calypso not waving from the beach,
this is the hallowed bier
from which she last viewed him
without a ripple in sight, clear sky,
the grass mistakenly graced by departure,
feather set in the sand
drops a shadow at three.

And in the background,
over headphones, screaming children,
hungry deep-voiced men laughing,
a whole section of the poem
must be moved “off to the side.”

On his way the father, though sickly,
his cancer advanced, made a stop
at the small black house of someone he did not know
and removed a large beige animal
by dragging its hind quarters
across the carpet for the creature was heavy,
formless but round and appeared
to have come up from the sea.

-Michael Daley

*Originally published in Rolling Thunder Review.

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